Philadelphia Phillies

Mark Appel Makes MLB Debut for Phillies 9 Years After He Was No. 1 Pick

Appel was away from baseball for three years before returning in 2021

Mark Appel makes MLB debut for Phillies 9 years after he was No. 1 pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Nine years after the Houston Astros drafted Mark Appel at No. 1 overall, the 30-year-old pitcher finally made his big league debut.

Pitching for the Phillies, Appel tossed a scoreless ninth inning in Philadelphia's 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. He allowed one hit and struck out one batter.

Appel's remarkable story to the majors began when he signed with the Astros as baseball's top draft pick in 2013. He spent two years in the organization before he was dealt to the Phillies as part of the Ken Giles trade. After two years in the minors, Appel decided to walk away from the game in 2018 at just 26 years old.

But after three years away, Appel decided to start a comeback. Still part of the Phillies' organization, Appel pitched for the Reading Fightin Phils (Double-A) and Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Triple-A) in 2021. He started this season in Triple-A and was called up to Philly when Connor Brogdon was placed on the COVID-IL.

"Having perspective and remembering even just two, three years ago," Appel said after the game. "Even if I was just trying to come back, it's never been a straight line for me. Even in that whole process, I was lost. I felt like there were times when I was hopeless, that this dream would never happen. So yeah, I was choking back tears."

The journey isn't over for Appel, as he remains on the Phils' active roster heading toward the weekend.

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